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Uganda Export Promotion Board and The International Trade Center Review The Uganda Coffee Export Strategy

Thursday May 19, 2011

THE Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) together with the International Trade Centre (ITC) is reviewing the coffee export strategy. This is meant to double coffee exports in the next five years.

Macrines Nyapendi talked to Alberto Gonzalez, the ITC senior export strategy officer about it. Below are excerpts

What is the role of the International Trade Centre (ITC) in developing economies?

ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations.
As the development partner for the success of small business exports, ITC’s goal is to help developing and transition countries achieve sustainable human development through exports.
Our services are delivered through five complementary business services: business and trade policy, export strategy, strengthening trade support institutions, trade intelligence and exporter competitiveness.
Through strategic development and capacity building based on these business services, ITC connects opportunities to markets. As a result, we achieve long-term, tangible benefits at both national and community levels.

The National Export Strategy was launched in 2007 with so much pomp. Why have you waited for all these years to start reviewing the sectors listed in the strategy?
By the book, it has been long and all was expected to be done in five years. In theory it is the right time to do the review.
After implementation of the coffee strategy, exports went down by 30% in 2008 because of the coffee wilt, the financial crisis and drought. We hope by availing the strategy, the sector will grow afresh again.

What are Uganda’s export growth advantages over the other developing countries?

Uganda has a better capability because of its favourable weather, availability of land and all kinds of labour which are still relatively cheap compared to other countries.
Uganda’s only undoing is lack of the youth’s interest and participation in agriculture. Farmers’ contribution to the growth of the economy is not recognised. The farmers must be appreciated because they are the wheel of the economy.

What are the barriers that need to be removed?

Increase funding for agricultural sector, invest in research, avail cheap credit to commercial farmers and promote good agronomical practices.

What can frontier market countries like Uganda do to attract investment in the agriculture export sector?
Better strategic plans that can instigate investment.

Most of the export sectors have been crying out to government to grant them incentives. Do they really promote investment and returns?
There is no need for incentives. These are usually given if there are calamities. Uganda does not need that and I don’t think the country can afford that. Incentives do not promote economic growth. Investors should lobby for better legal frame works on land, cheap credit, land and labour.
Sectors need to grow in real terms. Opening up for competition is very much needed rather than subsiding. Government should provide cheap credit to bankable export projects.

What would be an ideal approach that would promote Uganda’s export base?

Uganda has a huge potential; more dedication and political will is all is needed to transform the economy. Being the second largest coffee exporter on the continent speaks well; Uganda has a good export base that is better than that of other land locked developing countries.

There is statistical evidence that climate change has greatly affected agricultural production in Uganda yet over 80% of our exports are agricultural. What is your take on this?

Exporters should examine the components of soil in various parts of the country and select which crops are suitable to what soil and the variation weather.

What should the Central Government do to ensure that the strategies laid here yield benefits for this country?
Government to follow and implement what has been laid down by experts.

Anything advise to the business community?

Ugandan must reorganize if they are to compete favorably on the global scene.They should also take advantage of the fact that globalization has brought trade within reach of everyone, yet only a handful of developing countries have managed to maximize the potential of trade for development.

The New Vision Newspaper

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